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Full text of "The History Of Western Education"

THE BROADENING OF HUMANISM         213

with its brilliant entourage of knights, artists and men of letters,
he spent the best and happiest years of his life. His character and
abilities found early recognition in high offices and important
missions, and through the many changes in the chequered politics
of the Italian States he rose steadily in honour, only to die two
years after the downfall of Rome in the discredit attaching to his
share in the failure to avert that calamity.

To appreciate the significance of The Book of the Courtier
aright, it is essential to keep in mind the limitations of Castiglione.
He was in no sense a creative artist. His real distinction—and
it was a great one—was that he found the ideal of the scholarly
man of affairs in being in the court of Urbino, and so entered into
its spirit that he was able to portray it with the artless perfection
of unconscious art. So far as the type had any one creator, it was
Frederigo, the great Duke of Urbino, and he, it is to be noted,
had been a pupil of Vittorino. After passing his boyhood in the
House of Joy at Mantua he had carried the lessons of the master
into later life, and had made his duchy famous for scholarship
and learning in the course of a long reign. Vittorino, working
from without as a scholar must, had sought to unite the love of
letters with the practical exercises of chivalry : Frederigo, working
from within as only'a statesman could, brought the two characters
together in a type of personality new to Italy and to Europe—the
type of the scholarly knight, drawing inspiration for the tasks of
government from art and letters. And yet though it was Frederigo,
and not Castiglione, who was the real maker of the ideal courtier,
Castiglione's share in the achievement was quite as great as the
duke's. Coming into the court of Urbino under Frederigo's
successor, he served himself heir to the great tradition, and by
" fashioning the courtier in words," he set the new ideal free from
the limits of time and space to become part of the common heritage
of European education.

And now let us note the distinctive qualities of the perfect
courtier as he is presented by Castiglione. First and foremost,
he is a man of action. Though not a professional soldier, he is
skilled in the arts of war, and ready to run all its risks with a quiet
courage that has nothing of the braggart in it. So, again, he is
perfectly at home in all the manly exercises—hunting, swimming,
tennis, dancing, the use of weapons—and he can play his part in
them all with the consummate ease and grace of one who is so